Mets' Bats Fall Short Again in Loss

It summed up how Mets fans feel about their team currently. In the eighth inning of Thursday's game against the Braves, with Joe McEwing on first and two outs, Jay Payton hit a deep fly ball to right that looked like it could be a double that might get the speedy McEwing across the plate and tie the game at 3-3.

Braves right fielder Gary Sheffield backpedaled and then jumped to catch the ball and slammed against the wall. Payton stopped at first base, took off his batting helmet, held it above his head for a couple of seconds and then slammed it to the ground. It was emblematic of the Mets and their fans who are frustrated about how the big inning was yet again elusive, and John Smoltz again shrugged off Bobby Valentine's head games to pitch a scoreless ninth as the Mets' bats and bullpen again faltered in a 3-2 loss, their fifth in a row.

The scouting report on Tom Glavine is that he is most vulnerable to a big inning in the first inning, and the Mets seemed to take that to heart as they took an early 1-0 lead when both Edgardo Alfonzo and Mike Piazza hit one out back-to-back doubles. They could not capitalize any more as Glavine then proceeded to bear down after hitting John Valentin with a pitch to strike out McEwing and got Payton to pop up to short to end the inning.

The Braves tied the game in the bottom of the first. Rafael Furcal singled, stole second and then advanced to third when Piazza's throw sailed into the outfield. He scored on Julio Franco's ground ball to short.

The Mets took the lead once again in the second when Rey Ordonez hit a one out single and advanced to second when Jeff D'Amico sacrifice bunted. Roberto Alomar, who has been driving the ball a lot better in the past few weeks, singled in Ordonez to give the Mets a 2-1.

D'Amico was pitching very well until the sixth, including being the beneficiary of a spectacular catch by McEwing to rob Franco of a home run in the fifth, when he gave up a solo home run to Andruw Jones, one that McEwing had no chance to even come close to catching, to tie the game again. He left after the sixth and was relegated to no-decision purgatory again.

David Weathers came in the seventh inning, and as has been the custom of the Mets' middle relief of late, gave up the go-ahead run almost right away. Keith Lockhart, who made some very nice defensive plays in the game to stymie the Mets, further harassed them by tripling and then scoring on a wild pitch by Weathers to score the go-ahead and ultimately deciding run.

Notes


-Piazza left the game in the sixth inning, due to lightheadedness.
-Both Mo Vaughn and Jeromy Burnitz sat today against the tough lefty Glavine. Both came in the game as pinch-hitters. Burnitz popped out to right in the seventh in his one at-bat, and Vaughn worked a walk off of Smoltz in the ninth.
-The Mets travel to Cleveland now to begin the first of five inter-league series. The struggling Al Leiter (5-5, 3.39 ERA) will pitch against the young Cuban pitcher, Danys Baez ( 5-4, 4.45 ERA) on Friday night.

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